Wednesday, February 28, 2018

First Draft (III) – Binge Writing, Binge Reading

The Howard County Board of Education is losing a great deal of institutional knowledge, with the decisions of Cynthia Vaillancourt and Sandra French to not seek re-election.  Moreover, with Dr. Bess Altwerger opting to not run for a second term and with Ananta Hejeebu (appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the Christine O’Connor resignation) also not appearing on the ballot in 2018, there will be four newcomers to the Board this year.  This is worth emphasizing given that the other Class (the three Board Members elected in 2016) is comprised entirely of first-termers.

I am not going to delve into substantive issues or my BoE preferences at this point, as more research is required; although I will acknowledge that Robert Wayne Miller will probably receive one of my votes in the Primary Election.  Beyond that, he and Vicky Cutroneo are most likely the only two near-mortal locks to finish in the top 8 in the primary (and thus move on to the General Election).  Beyond those two, and in alphabetical order, the Spartan Considerations Wisdom of the Hour ™ deems it likely that the following candidates will move on to the General Election:

-       Danny Mackey
-       Anita Pandey
-       Saif Rehman
-       Sabina Taj
-       Chao Wu

Yes, I know that adds up to seven.  I don’t know yet who is most likely to round out the field.

Note: this is not an endorsement of anyone for BoE (except for Miller) …so don’t read it that way.

Democratic Central Committee (Female)

I am extremely high on Maureen Evans Arthurs and Candace Dodson-Reed.  Smart and hard-working, they bring some serious mettle to the electoral battlefield.  Both women receive my unqualified support.

I will also be supporting several other distinguished candidates for the Committee:  Mae Beale, Ethel Brown-Hill, Mary Catherine Cochran, Jennifer Jones, and Margaret Weinstein. 

Democratic Central Committee (Male)

There are several well-known names with established credentials along with some new-comers who have entered the fray.  As of this writing, I can’t say I have many strong preferences, but the candidates who I believe are most likely to be elected or re-elected include:

-       Bill Adams
-       Najee Bailey
-       Rich Corkran
-       Jeremy Eldridge
-       Bob Ford
-       Josh Friedman
-       David Grabowski
-       Pravin Ponnuri
-       Shahan Rizvi
-       Dhaval Shah
-       Peter Spann

Wait, that is 11 of the 18 men running…and only 10 can be elected.  Correct.  Someone on this list will find himself sans chair when the music stops. Who? Stay tuned.

In solidarity.

First Draft (Part Two)

Here are initial thoughts on several County races…

County Executive:  The Calvin BallAllan Kittleman match-up that the prophecies have foretold for eons. Will Harry Dunbar drop out or continue on until the June primary?  Turning to the general, I can see Ball winning with up to 58% of the vote, or Kittleman securing re-election with up to 52%.  Ball has more room to maneuver, bearing in mind the likely HoCo electorate in the fall, which helps reduce the incumbency advantage for Kittleman.

County Council One:  Jon Weinstein bought himself a primary.  Some of this has to do with optics and positioning but, in any event, it has been evident that certain Democratic circles in the First have been less than enthused with Weinstein’s term in office.  Remember that this was the scene of a hard fought primary campaign in 2014, where Weinstein garnered 33% of the vote in a four-way race.  I expect any Democratic challenger to start off with about 20% of the vote; and a good challenger may have a floor closer to 33%.  Candidly, I don’t know much about Elizabeth “Liz” Walsh but this district just became quite a bit more “interesting,” which no doubt disquiets some.  I expect Mr. Weinstein to win both the primary and the general, but neither will be a cake-walk.

County Council Two:  Opel Jones started early and, effectively, cleared the field.  A year ago, I would have expected three to five Democratic candidates for this office.  Today, Mr. Jones is the presumptive Democratic nominee and is well-situated to be the next County Councilman representing the Second.

County Council Three:  Four very good candidates. I expect the winner of the Democratic primary will emerge with around 33% of the vote.  If I was a resident of the Fightin’ Third, I would cast my ballot for the candidate who I believe possesses the greatest depth of knowledge regarding Howard County public policy matters: Steve Hunt.    I think Christiana Rigby has tremendous up-side potential as a candidate, and is perhaps a future County Executive.   Greg Jennings reads like a future Delegate.  Hiruy Hadgu is tapping into anti-development sentiment to fuel his campaign, and in this year…in this district…in a crowded primary…that could be sufficient to vault his candidacy into serious contention.  Any of these four could win the nomination…and no Republican has filed (although third party candidates/independents have until August 29 to file for the General Election, which brings me to…)

County Council Four:  My home Council district. I was bummed out when Byron Macfarlane withdrew his candidacy.  I was further disappointed when Cynthia Fikes dropped her bid a couple of months later.  I met with Deb Jung, she is an enthusiastic and thoughtful advocate for our community.  She is, by far, the best choice for the Democratic nomination for County Council (District 4).  Should she lose in the primary election to Dr. Janet Siddiqui, I believe it is likely that a candidate will file to run as an independent for the General Election, leading to a three-way race between her, Republican Lisa Kim, and a third option.

County Council Five:  My hopes are not high for this district, but I have heard reports that China Christine Williams is fighting the good fight in a constituency that is generally tough sledding for Democrats.  A Blue wave, hard work, and good fortune would be required for a D pick-up. 

State’s Attorney: Rich Gibson all the way.

Clerk of the Circuit Court:  Wayne Robey.

Register of Wills:  Byron Macfarlane has my full support.  Will Terrence McAndrews drop out? Stay tuned.

Judge of the Orphans’ Court:  Six, count them, six candidates for three positions with all incumbents running.  A quick review of the backgrounds of the three challengers appears to indicate that all are qualified.  I don’t want to say a heck of a lot here.  Leslie Smith Turner is a family friend and has served the County well for years. Nicole Bormel Miller is highly qualified and also deserves re-election. The third seat?  Who knows…

Sheriff:  No comment on this race pending further review of the candidates.

Next up:  the Central Committee races and, possibly, the Board of Education.

In solidarity.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

First Draft

So there I was, 8:54 pm, all set to file my paperwork to run for elective office when <bam> stuck in sudden and unrelenting traffic at Admiral Drive and 450.  Jumping out of my assembled-largely-in America Camry, I sprinted eastward.  I may have accidentally bumped into/knocked over Senate President Mike Miller. No time to look back.  I reached the main door of the Board of Elections building. Attempting to fling it open, I found it locked.  9:01 pm.  Closed for the day.  Filing period over. Dreams dashed.

You won this round, Congressman Cummings.  It would have been a spirited primary…     

Wait, that didn’t happen at all.

There is much to cover, too much for one post on a school-night (speaking of schools…educator Sharon Blake, I don’t know much about her (yet), but (topline) her choice scans well.  Former head of the Baltimore Teachers Union…I think Krish Vignarajah made a solid LG selection. So here are some bullet points focusing on Democratic candidates for state races:

Governor:  No last-minute surprises here. Still noodling on which progressive to back:  Vignarajah, Rich Madaleno, or Ben Jealous.  Kevin Kamenetz made a fine decision to bring Valerie Ervin on the ticket. I wish she was running with any of the Big Three I mentioned earlier in this paragraph (yes, yes, it might have been a MoCo-heavy ticket and geographic balance is still fairly important).    

Senate 9:  With a number of Republicans losing solid GOP seats in local races in other states, I am wondering if MD SD-9 might become more competitive now (as opposed to 2022 or 2026).  Katie Fry Hester is a good candidate.  And if Reid Novotny weakens, or (can one dream?) defeats, Gail Bates, could the Democrats pick up this primarily Western HoCo (with a slice of Carroll County) district in this cycle with, say, 50.2% of the vote?  It would require a big gain from the last cycle, but 2018 should be a significantly more favorable D environment compared to 2014.

Senate 12: Once this became an open seat with Ed Kasemeyer’s announcement, this one could have gone so many ways.  Yet here we have it: a Clarence LamMary Kay Sigaty primary.  Personally, I think Sigaty (my County Councilperson) has problems in her base.  Had she been eligible and had she run for re-election, I believe she would have had a serious primary challenge on her hands.  She may run well in Howard County, but I think Lam runs essentially even with her in HoCo and carries the (not majority but substantial) part of D12 in Baltimore County by a comfortable margin.  First formal prediction: Lam 56% - Sigaty 44%...and I might be a bit generous to Sigaty here.

Senate 13: Congratulations Senator Guzzone.

House 9A:  3 Democratic challengers facing off against 2 Republican incumbents.  I have heard most about Natalie Ziegler about I am reluctant to comment further on this race at this time.

House 9B:  Daniel Medinger seems like a fine and serious candidate.  That said, I believe Courtney Watson would be a superb Delegate and would be the better Democratic standard-bearer against GOP incumbent Bob Flanagan in the General Election.

House 12:  This one got weird.  Let’s assume that Terri Hill and Eric Ebersole are both well-positioned to win re-election.  Is there a Team 12 slate?  Are there two slates?  Right now, I read the two strongest challengers as Jessica Feldmark and James Howard.  Dario Broccolino has credentials…but I don’t know how he would fare seeking a state legislative office.  This being my home district, I will be commenting on developments frequently.  I am looking forward to receiving and reviewing the completed D12 candidate questionnaires.  Hint hint.  

House 13.  Vanessa Atterbeary is an excellent legislator who works on important issues and deserves re-election.  Shane Pendergrass should win another term and Jen Terrasa – a capable Councilperson who is right on downtown Columbia development issues (comparing favorably to the aforementioned Councilperson Sigaty) – should have the strength to win both the primary and general elections.  Sorry, Larry Pretlow.

Of course, candidates still have a couple of days to withdraw their names.  So there may still be changes hurtling our way.  Stay tuned, etc…

Up next:  Howard County races. 

In solidarity.